SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION
MEMBER FOR FRASER
TUESDAY, 17 DECEMBER 2013
NICOLE DYER: With me Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Member for Fraser. Mr Leigh, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning Nicole.
DYER: So Labor fudged the figures, what’s your response to that?
LEIGH: It’s a worthy try on, but unfortunately it’s an approach which was foreclosed by none other than Peter Costello, the former Liberal Treasurer. He put in place a thing called the Charter of Budget Honesty back in the mid-1990s. When he put that in place, he said that the reason he was doing it was so that there would be a Pre-election Fiscal and Economic Outlook and elections could be conducted on the basis of facts and not on the basis of deceit.
DYER: Well how much responsibility then does Labor take for the budget deficit?
LEIGH: We take responsibility for taking on debt to save jobs in the Global Financial Crisis. We also take responsibility for the fact that when we took office, ours was the 15th largest economy in the world, and when we left office it was the 12th largest economy in the world. So that debt that we took on saved jobs in the global downturn. If you think we shouldn’t have debt, basically you think that we should have lost more jobs. But everything since the election, that’s Joe Hockey’s – the $9 billion that he’s given to the Reserve Bank, the multi-billion dollar tax cut he wants to give to mining billionaires…
DYER: But you can understand, Mr Leigh, you can understand why people are so confused because at one stage while Labor was in power, we were going to be in surplus and then of course that didn’t happen and then it had to be re-forecast, so were you stalling? Was Labor stalling to get to the federal election? I mean for how long did you know that there were major problems within the budget that would mean that there would be no surplus?
LEIGH: Nicole we take responsibility for the state of the books at the time when Labor left office. That was clearly set out in the Charter of Budget Honesty, and that gave us a deficit for this year of $30 billion.
DYER: Yeah, but how did Labor get it so wrong? I mean how realistic was the pre-election budget proposing to bring the budget back into surplus in four years, and it now looks like it will take over a decade?
LEIGH: Well, this isn’t Labor getting things wrong, this is decisions made by the Treasurer. The Treasurer has chosen to give $9 billion to the Reserve Bank – not $9 billion they’ve asked for, $9 billion he’s giving to them because he wants a bigger dividend later. The Treasurer is choosing to walk away from $3 billion of tax savings such as closing tax loopholes. The Treasurer is choosing to give a big tax cut to Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer. The Treasurer is choosing to move from our current, fair Paid Parental Leave scheme to an unfair scheme that will give $75,000 to millionaire parents when they have a child. They’re the Treasurer’s decisions and they’re what’s going to take the budget backwards in the statement that Joe Hockey’s bringing out today.
DYER: Andrew Leigh, thank you very much. Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Member for Fraser. No doubt, there’ll be a lot of poring over figures when the mid-year budget is handed down in Parliament today.